Building a winter wardrobe: Where to spend and where to save

When it comes to seasonal fashion, winter is often the fan favourite. The textures, the layers, the creativity, and colour palette all seem to please even the most reluctant of dressers. 

I, on the other hand, actually find dressing in winter really difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of it – of strolling the streets of London in an oversized coat with a coffee in hand. But the reality is, I’m always far too cold to style myself for fashion purposes. I end up opting for warmth and comfort instead, and inevitably, I’m just re-wearing the outfits which I know will guarantee both of those things. 

This year, though, I'm attempting to get a little more creative with my wardrobe without overspending, because I don’t know if you’re aware, but clothes can be, like, really expensive. It’s not uncommon that I’ll be trawling my favourite online boutiques when I stumble upon a coat or shirt that I’m convinced I must have before realising it’s in the realm of $50000 (or may as well be, relative to my bank account). I don’t want to (and also physically cannot) spend such extreme amounts of money, but I also don’t want to invest in cheaper, poorer quality pieces that will need replacing within months. 

My advice in this scenario is to spend money on the foundations upon which the rest of your wardrobe will be built. A good pair of black leather (or, if you’re vegan, a quality leather alternative) ankle boots are essential. If you take good care of them, and get the soles replaced when they wear down, these could conceivably last you long into the future. 

Jeans are also important. Good quality, sustainable denim is more expensive, but it fits better and lasts longer. I’d recommend investing in a good pair of mid-blue straight leg jeans that you’ll wear year-round, and then buying trend pieces or lesser-worn styles from inexpensive retailers and second-hand or vintage stores (because let’s be honest, you don’t need to spend $200 on those pink corduroy flares). 

Next on the list is my personal favourite: knitwear. This category can be dangerous, and I know from first-hand experience how easy it can be to think you need a jumper in every colour on the spectrum. Realistically, though, depending on your colour preferences, you really don’t need anything close to that number. 

I think, if pressed, I could whittle my collection down to just four: a black, grey, cream/white/neutral, and a pop of colour. One should be thick, one should be thin, one should be a turtleneck, and one should be cropped. This effectively means you can wear a different style of jumper with the same pair of jeans and guarantee versatility. Cashmere, though not cheap, is preferable, because it’s long-lasting and layers well (think incredible warmth with minimal bulk). Keep an eye out for sales, particularly on European and American sites where they’re heading into summer, to see if you can pick up any bargains. But if spending that sort of money on clothes simply isn’t a priority (understandably), then wool or wool-blend jumpers are a much more affordable option and offer similar warmth and quality. 

Being in Australia, a heavy-duty coat thankfully isn’t an essential, so you can probably get away with wearing something lighter or made from less expensive materials if you’re layering up underneath. And as for things like t-shirts, shirts, and accessories – don’t bother spending much. I’ve made the mistake of dropping $60, $70, even $80 on t-shirts, telling myself that they’ll last foreverThey don’t, and you can't see them underneath all the winter layers, anyway. 

So, best of luck to all of us this season. May it be filled with warmth and comfort and, if all goes to plan, creativity and style, too. 

Tagged in Student life, fashion, Wellbeing, environment, What messes with your head